Watch Joel Embiid reject Derrick Favors at the rim


Another game, another Sixers loss — and another night with Joel Embiid highlights.

The Sixers’ star rookie held his own against an elite defensive center in Rudy Gobert, scoring 14 points on eight shots and grabbing nine boards. He also blocked one shot — rejecting Utah’s Derrick Favors at the rim.

Utah, however, had little trouble with the Sixers winning 109-84. Philly has lost 43 straight games in October and November. They have a couple against a struggling Pacers team later in the week that could break that streak.

Report: Players’ union chief to tour teams, talk to players about new CBA

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In the latest optimistic sign that a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement is close…

NBA Players’ Union Executive Director Michelle Roberts is about to go on tour, talking to players around the league about the details of the new deal in person. Via ESPN’s Ian Begley and Dave McMenamin:

Union boss Michele Roberts plans to meet with all players in person in the coming weeks to discuss the new labor agreement, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and I. This is another sign that an agreement between the NBA and NBPA is imminent. The league and Players Association have made progress on a new agreement in recent weeks and there remains optimism on both sides that a deal will get done.

Reports are the new CBA could be settled in the next couple of weeks, it’s just a matter of crossing a few “Ts.”

Both the NBA and the Union have done a very good job keeping the details under wraps, but is what we know of the deal:

• The roughly 50/50 split of revenue will remain (there’s a complicated formula based on projections that can move it a percentage point either way). Money is always the biggest hurdle in these negotiations, agreeing to this split eased these negotiations.

• The NBA will create a fund to help with medical expenses and more for retired players who need it, particularly older ones that have been out of the league for some time.

• The college one-and-done rule will remain.

• The scaled salaries for rookies will increase.

• There will be some changes to cap holds and other details.


Dwyane Wade’s advice to Kevin Durant: Don’t play the villain, just be yourself

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Dwyane Wade has been down this road before: The formation of a superteam, the elation of the local fan base, the boos and scorn of fans around the rest of the league, the accepting of the villain role, the slow start trying to fit the pieces together. Golden State is going through that now with the addition of Kevin Durant; Wade went through it when LeBron James came to Miami.

So what is Wade’s advice to the Warriors? Be yourself, not the role everyone wants you to play.

Here is what he told By Moke Hamilton of BasketballInsiders.

“Everybody wanted to beat us, so everybody was playing their tail off against us,” Wade recalled. “It took time for us to get to the game that we wanted to get to…

“I think them guys understand what it takes,” Wade said of the sacrifices needed to win under such circumstances. “I think the biggest thing is, what I say is just enjoy it. One thing we did wrong our first year was we played into the villain role because people was not liking that we was together and we tried to play into that role. That’s not why we started playing basketball – we started playing basketball because we enjoyed it and we loved it.”

LeBron, in particular, tried to put on the villain costume, but it didn’t fit. The next season, when he was just trying to be himself again, Miami won a ring.

Golden State has the advantage of just trying to fit one player in Durant into an existing system, rather than re-invent the wheel, but there still are a lot of changes for everyone. The ball is moving, 67.7 percent of Golden State’s baskets are assisted (second highest percentage in the league) but the consistency, particularly on defense, is not there. That is what they need to work on, and they’ve got most of a season to do it. Whether they play the villain role or not.

Miami Heat to wear jerseys honoring fallen soldiers


Tonight in Oklahoma City, the Miami Heat will wear their “Home Strong” uniforms.

For a decade now, the Heat have honored military service members at their games. This year — not coincidentally starting on the week of Veterans’ Day — the team has upped the effort with military-themed “Home Strong” uniforms — each team member will have the name of a fallen service member on the jersey (on the left breast area). Miami will wear the jerseys tonight through Nov. 15.

This videos from the Heat helps explain what is going on better than I ever could.

Here is a list of who is being honored by Miami in this classy move.

Goran Dragic: Army Capt. Josh McClimans
Hassan Whiteside: U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Bruce Carter
Udonis Haslem: Army Lt. Col. Edmundo Lluberes
Justise Winslow: Army Pfc. Brandon Sapp
Dion Waiters: Army Spc. Bernard Hill Jr.
Tyler Johnson: Army Sgt. Humberto Timoteo
James Johnson: Army Staff Sgt. Lyle Turnbull
Josh McRoberts: U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Martin Gonzales
Josh Richardson: Air Force Staff Sgt. David Horney IV
Willie Reed: Army Sgt. Thomas Bohall
Luke Babbitt: Army Pfc. Ashley Williams
Rodney McGruder: Army Sgt. 1st Class Larry Vaquero
Wayne Ellington: Army Sgt. Kyle Henry
Derrick Williams: Army Staff Sgt. Lillian Clamens

The coaches and front office people also are wearing things to honor fallen veterans.

Pat Riley: Army Spc. Daniel Agami
Juwan Howard: Army Spc. Gerardo Campos
Dan Craig: Army Pfc. Marius Ferrero
Erik Spoelstra: Army Spc. Christopher Nguyen
Chris Quinn: Army Sgt. Robert Wise
Jay Sabol: U.S. Navy Seaman William Ortega

Isaiah Thomas on Boston defense: “We’re not as good as we thought we were”

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It’s just a couple of weeks into the season, but the Celtics have the second-best offense in the NBA to this point, scoring 110.7 points per 100 possessions.

They also have the 29th ranked defense, giving up 110.2 per 100.

The defense was the reason the Celtics dropped a 123-107 game to the Nuggets in the Boston Garden Sunday. Denver is an underrated team, but Boston’s defense has been bad and after the game Isaiah Thomas owned it, as you can see in the video above courtesy CSNNE.com.

“We’re not as good as we thought we were. When we don’t come out with a sense of urgency, we’re not a good team, and that’s what happened tonight….

“At this point, we’re all talk (about a good defense). That’s all we’re doing. So until we put it together in a full 48-minute game and show what we can do at that end, we’re not gonna be a top defensive team.”

To be fair, injuries are a part of this. Al Horford has been out with a concussion, while Jae Crowder remains sidelined with a sprained ankle. Marcus Smart missed time with an ankle injury of his own, and Avery Bradley has been playing through shoulder pain.

But that doesn’t explain 29th. This team played much better defense last season (100.9 points allowed per 100 possessions), and the core of it is back this season. There is a lack of focus and effort, something we’ve rarely seen from Brad Stevens teams.

The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing it, so at least Thomas and the Celtics have taken that step. Expect to see the defense improve over the coming weeks (especially as guys get healthy).